The curtains are going up and they're going to be pink. I don't suppose they'll call them pink, though. They'll be eglantine.
Yup, April 20 the Pasadena Junior Philharmonic Committee women, more than 100 of these dogged, dutiful, do-or-die ladies, again will open to the public the results of their work and that of the 13 exterior and 14 interior designers. It will be the 22nd time they've pulled it off and they expect to pull in more than 50,000 people to see the combined efforts.
Went to the Before Party on Friday night: The house was stripped bare of all furnishings; big, black arrows and crayon letters appear on walls saying things like "Wall goes out," "Cupboards removed"; and the designers had easels with drawings, fabric swatches, paint samples and furniture examples of what they're going to do in each room. Each room was taken over by a different design firm so they're all different. And how.
First off, let me say that the rare roast beef and horseradish sauce sandwiches were great and the dessert table was not to be believed--a veritable bazaar of chocolate and marzipan. Next, the San Marino house built for Collis Huntington Holladay is designed comfortably--huge rooms, of course, but it could be lived in. Interesting iron stair rails, grills and balcony railings variously dubbed Italian, Moorish or Spanish were beloved by Joseph Kucera, the architect who built the house in 1931. They're all painted a grand and proper almost-black-bottle green and I was pleased to be assured they will remain the same color.
Nothing much else was going to remain the same, but then it seldom does in a Showcase House. Almost all the walls were the same color I painted my own 1910 English Craftsman house walls--pale orange, which chameleon-changes to deep apricot or pale ivory depending on the sun and time of day. I do like that color. Out it goes and in comes eglantine, terra cotta, yellow, "sky hues," "large-scale floral wallpaper," striped, marbleized, textured, metallic or whatever suits the designer's whims.
Listen, whatever it is, it will be interesting. You may rejoice, you may snicker, sneer or groan, but it's something to be seen. Phone (818) 792-4661 for when and where.
As is usually the case at these before parties, I exclaim over what they were throwing out: long, lace curtains with wonderfully silly peacocks woven in; counters absolutely unobtainable anymore of dark-green linoleum; an admittedly hideous but most endearing bathroom wallpaper of yellow morning glories strangling bamboo trellises. This later adjoins what will be the Chambre d'Elegance , "We're kind of drawing on Coco Chanel," one designer said.
The master bath has young W. S. Holbrook restoring the green tile border--hooray--and promising to echo ideas of Rennie Makintosh and Will Bradley, certainly a different direction for a Showcase House.
"How many books will be in the library?" I asked. Silly question. "The relentless walls of shelving," the designer writes, are being turned into display cabinets "to house an emotional art collection," Chinese antiques and sculpture. Pouf valances, tie-backs, fringed and tasseled drapes, lace liners and overdrapes will preen about the window. There will be some books in the library; the designer hasn't decided whether they'll be in English or French. Featured will be "a state-of-the-art entertainment center" and a 40-inch television screen.
Henry Huntington gave Caroline, his favorite sister, the southeast part of his San Marino property so she and her husband, Edmund Holladay, would stay next door. Later the Holladays gave 3 3/4 acres of their property to their son Collis for his family home.
Here and there the committee women had displays of old Holladay family photographs. I found them innocently heartbreaking. Here stands an elegant woman in a long, Oriental dress (black-and-white photograph but somehow I know the dress was emerald green), proudly tall in front of a bookcase above which are Chinese porcelain bowls; there is a somewhat murky photograph of husband and wife happily relaxed in basket chairs under an old sun umbrella at the top of a flight of sunken garden steps; the badminton court where Saturday games were the rule; a little boy, hand on the outside brake, showing off his go-cart.
All gone or grown up now, a new way of life.
Take the big, old sleeping porch. It will soon become "a contemporary deco solarium hideaway." It will have, the decorator said, "Kind of a thrust of Art Deco, architectural Art Deco, more eclectic than pure art form." An artist will "do faux coppering and metaling striping" on the ceiling--"We're getting a little wild."
They always do get a little wild; that's why people come to see the Showcase House; that's how the Los Angeles Philharmonic got more than $400,000 last year donated by the Pasadena Junior Philharmonic Committee. You'll come this year to ogle the Showcase House and gardens, ooh and ah, maybe bah, have lunch, buy gifts, have an interesting time. But don't expect to see the sleeping porch look like a sleeping porch.